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How sustainable mobility technology can reduce business costs and improve your sustainability profile

For the past few years, sustainability has been at or near the top of the agenda for many businesses. Most recognise the need to bake sustainability into the organisation, and the most savvy have drawn up their business sustainability strategies – and with good reason, because it is becoming increasingly clear that sustainability can benefit businesses in terms of environmental impact, reputation and revenue. Yet recent research shows that, when we drill into the detail, many European businesses are struggling to implement sustainable mobile computing strategies.

The benefits of sustainable mobility technology and tips for implementation


According to an independent survey of 772 European IT decision-makers, commissioned by Panasonic and carried out by Opinion Matters;

  • Fewer than half of all respondent organisations currently evaluate devices for sustainability/environmental impact before purchase.

  • Fewer than half take proactive decisions to extend the life and service of their mobile computing devices.

  • Most do not routinely repurpose devices for a secondary use in their business.

  • Many businesses lack a coherent, sustainability-focused, end of life strategy for their mobile computing devices.

What is more, over half of the businesses surveyed said they generally changed their mobile computing devices within two years of purchase. Clearly, the sheer volume of devices being discarded has serious implications, both for the environment and for business costs. 

Businesses know this – so why is sustainable IT so hard to achieve?

In this article we will explore the barriers that are preventing large-scale uptake of sustainable mobility technology, and consider how these barriers might be overcome. We will also consider how and why sustainable IT, as well as a Managed Service, is a crucial element of all business sustainability strategies and a good way to reduce business costs.

Barriers to business sustainability strategies for mobile devices

Currently, several key issues prevent businesses from making their mobile device management sustainable. These include: (a) businesses don’t strategise effectively with mobile lifecycles in mind and (b) manufacturers don’t make it easy for businesses to buy sustainable computers – they tend not to produce devices that can be reconfigured and redeployed easily. 

There are some notable exceptions to this rule (the Panasonic Toughbook 55, for example, can be reconfigured with a range of ‘plug and play’ modules), but generally speaking it is still difficult to adapt a mobile computing device purchased for one reason, to suit a different business purpose or end user.

Other barriers include security concerns and rapidly changing business demands (which lead to rapid device turnover for the reasons given above). There is also the question of device durability: businesses need rugged computers that will be long lasting and tough enough to withstand repurposing and reuse, therefore ideally these are designed with clear reconfigurability features and benefits. But these devices are not the norm. 

Sustainable computers are part of the solution

The Opinion Matters research shows that businesses want to use sustainable IT: 58% of respondents would repurpose between 21% and 50% of all their devices if these could be easily reconfigured by end users. This attitude makes sense for everyone – extending device lifecycles saves both money and environmental impact. 

Rugged computers, and particularly rugged mobile computing devices, generally last for extended periods (often three or four times as long as commercial models) and some also have a greatly extended battery life. This drives down both cost of ownership and downtime. Those rugged devices that can also be repurposed multiple times are a good choice as part of any cost reduction strategy, while improving the organisation’s sustainability profile. But as we have seen, they may require careful sourcing – especially when enterprise mobile management or managed services also make sense, at which point the quality of the supplier becomes as critical as the quality of the device.

Clearly, businesses need the option to buy robust, durable devices that can be easily reconfigured by the end user, for example through a modular design with accessories like plug and play barcode and smartcard readers that can be added or removed at will. But while these mobile computing devices do exist, at the moment they make up a very small proportion of the market.

The advantages of a managed service for your ruggedised device estate

For many companies, managing their mobile device estate is a major challenge, especially if they try to do it themselves. The management of mobile device estate is a specialist area that can be difficult to recruit for and hard to scale. Mobile devices are at the forefront of technology and that landscape changes quickly; few companies have either the expertise or the free time to keep up with it.

However, failure to efficiently manage mobile device estates has cost implications. There are the obvious operational efficiency risks; many workers rely heavily on their mobile technology and simply cannot do the job - or at least, cannot do their job efficiently - if their device is not working properly. If this problem is scaled across an estate, it can soon have an impact on productivity. There are also risks around data security and management, especially when devices are not well managed. The financial and reputational damage caused by data breaches can be massive, which is why data management and security is a key responsibility for most businesses.

The solution is to outsource mobile device estate management to a Managed Service provider, which will have a team of device IT experts dedicated to your estate.

How does a device management service improve sustainability?

Pairing a rugged device estate with a device management service ensures best performance in the field, along with maximum longevity and cost management.

In other words, this combination provides best ROI on mobile device investment, while reducing losses (e.g. through downtime, frequent maintenance, device failure) and maximising sustainability benefits of ruggedised mobile devices.


Businesses currently dispose of many devices very quickly (many change their mobile computing devices within 2 years of purchase). This is expensive in both financial and environmental terms; more sustainable computers can drive down business costs. If things are to change it is important for businesses to write sustainable IT, and in particular the use of sustainable mobile computing devices, into their business sustainability strategies. Not only this, businesses should also consider a Managed Service for their rugged device estate, to extend device lifespan and maximise cost saving opportunities.

For more information on how to make your mobile device estate simultaneously sustainable, cost-effective, and productivity-driven, download our comprehensive guide.

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